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GENERATION AND DISPOSAL OF SOLID, LIQUID AND GASEOUS WASTES IN THE NEW YORK REGION
Prepared for Regional Plan Association
by Blair T. Bower, P.E., Gordon P. Larson, Abraham Michaels, P.E., and Walter M. Phillips.
'" Edited by Richard T. Anderson.
Cosponsored by the Metropolitan Regional Council:
A REPORT OF THE SECOND REGIONAL PLAN
In its daily production and consumption of goods and services, society generates wastes-solid, liquid, and gaseous. Unlike an astronaut in his capsule, who is constrained within a small environment and must recycle his wastes into productive uses to the maximum extent possible, society has few incentives at present to recycle its wastes. Thus, wastes must be disposed of, often at locations other than where they were generated. Wastes are discharged into the atmosphere, into surface and groundwater courses, and on the land. The generation and discharge of wastes is illustrated in Chart 1. Various forms of wastes are produced at many points, from the production of initial raw materials to consumer use of finished products.
The definitions of three terms, basic to this study, are as follows:
Waste. A waste is a substance for which, at a given point in time, there is no economic use.'
Waste generation. Wastes are generated during production and consumption of goods and services. For example, dust is generated in the production of steel ingots; waste paper is generated in office buildings; households generate gaseous wastes from fuel burned for heating, solid residue from vegetation in yards, and liquid wastes from washing.
Residual waste. A final quantity of waste discharged into the environment-air, water, or land-is called residual waste. It is the quantity that remains after measures, if any, are undertaken at the site of waste generation and in collective waste handling facilities to reduce the waste prior to discharge.
There are three fundamental aspects of the problem of waste generation and waste management: (1) factors affecting generation and recycling of wastes in society; (2) capacity of air, water, and land to assimilate residual wastes; (3) relationships among the three basic forms of wastes-solid, liquid, and gaseous.
Per capita generation of solid wastes since the end of World War I has increased by about 60 percent. Contributors to this increase have been greater per
lThe word "wastes" (plural) is a more accurate term than the singular, because the appropriate reference is usually to one or more wastes of any form-solid, liquid, and gaseous-or any combination of them. However, for simplicity, the
singular 'form is used in reading for adjectives and adverbs. \
capita consumption of paper products, the "packaging revolution" which has virtually eliminated the purchase of goods in bulk, decreased durability of many consumer goods, and the general proliferation of consumer goods. These are clear reflections of the spreading affluence of society.
An important factor in waste generation is that many decisions concerning the production of goods for consumer use are made without consideration of the impacts on waste generation or waste disposal costs. An obvious example is the decision to use nonreturnable bottles rather than returnable bottles. Instead of a container which is recycled into the production-consumption process, the bottle becomes a waste which must be handled and disposed of after its contents are used.
The recycling of wastes, as illustrated by the environment of a space capsule, can have important effects on waste management costs. Although this will be evident from subsequent analyses, it is of sufficient importance to merit illustration here.
WASTE GENERATION AND DISPOSITION
S solid wastes
L liquid wastes G gaseous wastes
Above: A major reason for the 60 percent increase in per capita generation of solid wastes since 1920 is greater use of disposable paper products. These overflowing paper cartons, delivered with goods to a su pe rm arket in Howard Beach, Queens, became wastes when their purpose was fulfilled.
Left: While consumption of paper products is increasing rapidly, the reused portion of waste paper has declined continuously since the Korean War. No more than 20 percent of the paper wastes presently collected by members of the Greater New York Waste Paper Association are reused, compared to more than 60 percent just fifteen years ago. Here a load of waste paper is removed from a Manhattan loft building.
One system for handling and disposing of solid wastes, including the option of recycling the paper component, is illustrated in Chart 2. In the United States, paper currently accounts for about 50 percent, by weight, of the collected solid wastes generated per capita. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of this paper is salvaged and reused. If we assume there is a market for recycled paper, waste management costs can be estimated for each level of recycling. Assuming that the paper which is not recycled is disposed of with the rest of the solid wastes by incineration, with subsequent disposal of the incinerator residue to sanitary landfill, the annual cost of solid waste disposal, with only 20 percent of the paper recycled, is about 1.5 times the annual cost if 80 percent of the paper were recycled, a difference of almost 100 million dollars for the New York Region.s These costs, shown in Table 1, refer to the system shown in Chart 2.
EXAMPLE OF EFFECT OF RECYCLING PAPER ON WASTE MANAGEMENT COSTS IN THE NEW YORK REGION
VARIANT I, YEAR 2000'
20 percent 80 percent
paper recycled paper recycled
QUANTITIES TO BE MANAGED
Total solid wastes incinerated
annually" ~51 million tons'
Incineration capacity required' 204 thousand tons /day
34 million tons 136 thousand tons /day
Particulates discharged to atmosphere"
Particulates discharged in waste water from wet
scrubber' 408 tons/day
Residue from incineration,
to landfill 14 million tons
14 million tons
MANAGEMENT COSTS IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
Capital investment in incinera-
tion capacity' 1,428
Annual operation and mainte-
nance costs of incineration 153
Annual cost of makeup waters 2.55
Total annual cost of solid
waste disposal" 300
'For explanation of variants, see Chapter 3 and also the Appendix, Section 2. b8ased on total solid waste generation of '56.8 x 100 tons, 50 percent of which is
assumed to be paper. ,
'Collective incineration; no on-site incineration permitted; 250 days/year of 24
«Assuming good incineration, i.e., 10 pounds of particulates discharged/ton of waste incinerated.
'Assuming good incineration, i.e., 50 pounds of particulates generated/ton of waste incinerated, 80 percent removal in the wet scrubber, and 90 percent removal in the settling basin.
'$7,000/ton/day of capacity and $8,OOO/ton/day for the two conditions, respectively, gMakeup water for wet scrubber is 1,000 gallons/ton incinerated at $0.05/ 1,000 gallons.
hWith annual charge of 10 percent on capital investment in incineration capacity.
, 2"New York Region" and "Study Area" are used synonymously in this report. They refer to the 31-county area in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut shown on the map inside the front cover.
A SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL SYSTEM
paper recycled into production
S solid wastes
L liquid wastes G gaseous wastes
PERCENT OF PAPER AND PAPERBOARD PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES FROM DESIGNATED MATERIALS
i7°rl"1'-I-l-I~-1'--t j t-1-G""~~~'~f' +,-+--~~
1: 8. a
~ 30 II
NOTE: Total paper and paperboard production was about: 13 million tons in 1939 26 million tons in 1951 39 million tons in 1963
Residual wastes discharged into the environment differ significantly between the two cases. About 50 percent more particulates per day are discharged to the air and water in the former case (20 percent of paper recycled) than in the latter (80 percent of paper recycled). The difference in costs between the two cases is so large that incentives could be paid in order to induce extensive recycling. Without such incentives or some specific government regulation requiring the use of waste paper as a raw material, the proportion of paper recycled is likely to continue to decrease, as suggested by the historical data shown in Chart 3.
The magnitude of wastes generated in industrial production is a function of the nature of the raw materials used, the technology of the production process, the operating level of a plant, the product output mix, and the controls imposed specifically on plant discharges or on the effect of such discharges on environmental quality. As one example, prior to 1950 open hearth furnaces discharged about 8 to 12 pounds of dust per ton of steel. Subsequent developments in steel-making technology, particularly the adoption of the basic oxygen furnace, have resulted in doubling the waste dust generated per ton of steel produced. The latest oxygen steel-making method will increase the dust generated per ton still further.s
To cite another example, the quantity of particulates generated in the combustion of coal at steam generating plants is a function of the quality of the coal (particularly the ash and volatiles content), the type of boiler, the firing conditions, and the operating level. Assuming an initial ash content of 10 percent, the pounds of particulates generated per ton of coal burned range from about 20 pounds per ton to about 240 pounds per ton, a ratio of 12 to 1.4 Depending on the nature of the production process, the product mix, and the raw materials used, the pounds of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) generated in the paper industry vary among plants by a ratio of at least 20 to 1. In the canning of fruits, the waste load in pounds of BOD per ton of raw product processed varies significantly in relation to the quality of the fruit, the method of processing, and the product mix. The waste load from peach canning, for example, varies according to whether only halves and slices are canned or, in addition, irregular pieces, concentrate, and nectar are packed.
3H. J. Dunsmor~, "Waste Di~fusion Problerns of Allegheny County," Proceedings of the Fourth Plttsburl!h sanitary Engineering Co.nference (Pittsburgh, 1963), p. 74. 4G. Ozotins and .R. Smith, RapId Survey Technique for Estimating Community Air
PollutIon Emlsslo!,!s (Public Health Service Publication No. 999-AP-29; Washington:
GPO, 1966), p. 56. -
Consideration of waste management must begin with analysis of the factors which influence waste generation in the first place. Changing technology, changing consumer tastes, and increasing per capita income are the critical factors involved. If present governmental policies continue, such as not assessing the external costs of waste discharges against the producers of goods and services, an increasingly affluent society is likely to spawn greater per capita quantities of wastes, thus straining the assimilative capacity of the environment and increasing waste management costs.
Assimilative capacity of the environment
The second important facet of waste management is the assimilative capacity of the environment. Discharge of wastes mayor may not affect environmental quality. Whether it does or does not depends on the assimilative capacity of the environment and the nature of the wastes themselves. For example, the discharge of several tons of organic material into the ocean 20 or 30 miles from shore may have no measurable impact on water quality. The discharge of the same quantity of organic material into the Hudson River at Albany may result in a significant deterioration of water quality in the River downstream from Albany.
The impact of a waste discharge on subsequent users of water, air, and land is a function of the concentration of the waste. It is crucial to identify the effects of a given waste quantity discharged from a single source or of various quantities discharged from many sources on air and water quality "downstream" from the discharges. If the concentration of sulphur dioxide at a particular point in the air is of concern, the problem is to determine the concentration at that point stemming from the discharge of given quantities of sulphur dioxide at other points. If the concern is with the dissolved oxygen in a stream, the problem is to determine the amount of dissolved oxygen which results from the discharge of organic waste materials at various points upstream from the location of concern. The complex interrelationships between quantity and location of waste discharges and impact on environmental quality are considered further in Chapter 2.
Three further points should be mentioned. First, since it is the quality of air, water, and land which affects subsequent users, not the discharge of wastes per se, "pollution" can be said to occur only when the discharge of wastes significantly impairs subsequent uses of air, water, or land. Thus, if a general relation-
ship as illustrated in Chart 4 is known, whether or not pollution occurs is a function of the general relationship shown in Chart 5. That is, until some level of concentration is reached, there are no measurable damages from sulphur dioxide .. Of course, the level of concentration at which damage begins to occur varies greatly depending on the waste and on the use of the "environmental element"-air, water, land-involved. For example, concentrations of total dissolved solids in water of 500 to 600 parts per million (ppm) generally have no adverse effects on human beings when the water is used for drinking. In contrast, a concentration of phenols in water of less than 1 part per billion will result in objectionable taste and odors in drinking water.
Second, the concentration of a waste in the environment is a function not only of the quantity of a given waste discharged but, also, of the occurrence of other wastes in the water or air. For example, a certain waste at a given concentration may be extremely toxic to fish if other wastes are present in the water, but the same concentration may have no deleterious effects if the other wastes are not present." Similar behavior occurs with respect to gaseous wastes.
The concentration at a given point resulting from the discharge of a waste is also dependent on whether the waste is degradable or nondegradable. Organic materials in liquid wastes are degradable; they change form and quantity over time after discharge into the water. Other wastes, such as chlorides, are nondegradable; the quantity originally discharged does not change. Gaseous wastes, such as sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide, may change form over time as a result of chemical reactions in the atmosphere. In contrast, dust particles do not undergo transformation in the atmosphere. Garbage discharged to sanitary landfill will degrade (decompose over time), but demolition materials, such as concrete and asphalt, will not.
Third, the assimilative capacity of the air and water changes with time-within a day, from day to day, season to season, and year to year. These fluctuations result from changing hydrologic and atmospheric conditions. During a low-flow period, a stream has much less capacity to assimilate wastes than does the same stream during high flow. Fluctuations in the environment, therefore, are important factors to be considered in waste management.
5See J. E. McKee and H. W. Wolf, Water Quality Criteria (California State Water Quality Control Board Publication No. 3·A; Sacramento, 1963.), pp. 113-115.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN S02 DISCHARGED AND S02 CONCENTRATION
E Co Co
" '" u
502 discharged '- tons
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN S02 CONCENTRATION AND DAMAGES
502 concentration, ppm
Nondegradable demolition materials often provide good landfill for building projects such as airports. But they also present special removal problems in congested urban areas, as with the demolition of the Astor Hotel on Times Square, and demolition often contributes dust to the air.
Interrelationships among forms of wastes
The third important aspect of the waste management problem involves the relationships among different forms of wastes. One form of waste may be transformed into another form in the process of handling and disposal. For example, waste fiber from the production of paper can be discharged into a water course as a liquid waste. If stringent controls are placed on such discharge, an alternative is to incinerate the waste fiber. This may result in undesirable gaseous waste discharges, with resulting deterioration of air quality. If stringent controls are imposed on gaseous waste as well as liquid waste discharges, another option is to dispose of the waste fiber in solid form, for example, by sanitary landfill.
It is also possible to use one form of waste to modify another form. This is exemplified by the utilization of flue gas from catalytic crackers in petroleum refining to strip sulphides from caustic treatment operations.
An interrelationship among the three forms of wastes can be illustrated by an incinerator operation. Assuming that a wet scrubber is used with an tncinerator.s and that the wastes put into the incinerator remain the same in quality and composition, as the degree of particulate removal is increased, there are corresponding increases in the quantities of water required for scrubbing and of solid residue requiring disposal.
Regional planning and waste management
If all economic activities and households were scattered uniformly over a featureless plain and the distance between any two points of activity were large enough so that the discharge of wastes would have no adverse effects on the quality of air, water, and land, and hence no adverse effects on users of them, there would be no waste management problem. As the concentration of population and productive activities increases in an area, there are more and more demands on the assimilative capacity of that area. Consequently,
spatial arrangement is an important factor in the im- (
pact of waste discharges on environmental quality.
The discharge of any form of waste may have effects external to the unit generating the waste.' Examples in-
6A wet scrubber is an air pollution control device which utilizes water for trapping, absorbing, and removing fly ash, dust, and gases from a process effluent gas stream.
7This is an illustration of what the economist calls "externalities." See the discussion of externalities with respect to water quality in A. V. Kneese, The Economics of Regional Water Quality Management (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), Chapter 3.
elude: an upstream plant discharging dye which causes a downstream plant to incur significant water treatment costs in order to use the water; a rendering plant producing odors which are objectionable to residents in the immediate neighborhood; uncontrolled dumping of refuse leading to rodent and insect breeding, deterioration of air quality from open burning, deterioration of water quality from drainage through the dump, and general ugliness.
Two aspects of activity location in a region are particularly relevant to waste management. The first involves the location of activities in relation to each other. The second involves the location of waste generating activities relative to waste management costs.
First, substantial damages would be likely if a plant generating and discharging significant quantities of organic wastes were located immediately upstream from a major trout-fishing area. Similarly, water-based recreation activities should not be located near an area of heavy industrial concentration. Because the cost of waste reduction increases rapidly as the degree of waste reduction approaches 100 percent, it is not economically feasible to remove all wastes or to preclude all waste discharges to the environment. Consequently, as production increases in a given area, the quantity of wastes generated and discharged in that area will increase almost inevitably. Therefore, when planning the location and density of economic activities, the generation or' wastes, the discharge of wastes, the impact of such discharges on environmental quality, and the impact of the resulting quality on other users should be considered.
Second, activity location also affects costs of waste management. Since there are economies of scale in many waste reduction and waste treatment measures and in measures to improve the assimilative capacity of water courses, concentrating major waste generating activities in special areas may result in fewer resources to achieve a given level of environmental quality than if the same activities were widely scattered. For the same total quantity of solid wastes to be collected and disposed of, the cost of collection and disposal per ton will be less for a more concentrated area of waste generation. On the other hand, since there is a finite assimilative capacity in both air and water, and since some types of wastes degrade with time, a dispersed pattern of waste generation also has advantages.
Louis B. Schlivek
Concentrations of people permit economies of scale in many waste collection and reduction methods. With liquid waste treatment, the larger the plant, the cheaper the cost per gallon. The Ward's Island Water Pollution Control Plant, opened in 1937, was New York City's first modern plant providing secondary treatment. It now handles 200 million gallons per day, the wastes from 1.25 million people.
New York City Department of Public Works
Newtown Creek, the City's thirteenth plant, began operation in mid-1967. It is designed to serve an equivalent of 2.5 million people, with an average flow of 310 million gallons per day. These discharges formerly flowed without any treatment from 83 outlets into the Hudson and East Rivers.
Waste management costs comprise only one factor to be considered in the location of productive activities. For example, the location of a firm at a particular site might minimize waste handling costs but result in additional transportation costs greater than the savings in waste management costs.
Thus, the costs of achieving desired levels of quality are dependent on activity location and the interrelationships among wastes generated, wastes discharged, environmental quality, impact on other users, and methods of waste management. Sensitivity of waste management costs to the location of activities is one of the questions investigated in this study.
Objectives of the study
This study is concerned with regional planning in the 31-county Study Area of the Regional Plan Association; nevertheless, it is relevant for regional planning in general. The first objective of the study is to specify procedures by which the problems of waste generation and waste management can be explicitly incorporated in regional planning. This implies several questions. For example, what types of data are necessary for an assessment of a region's waste problem? What methods can be used for analyzing the data? What are the impacts of technology and the implications of governmental policy decisions on waste generation and management? What alternatives are available for waste management? What are their costs and economic and social consequences?
The second objective is to examine the impact of alternative settlement patterns on generation of wastes, environmental quality, and costs of waste management
in the New York Region. For instance, for the same level of economic activity, do different distributions of population, employment, and industrial production have significantly different effects on environmental quality? Do they result in significantly different costs of waste management? The costs developed herein are not definitive; the objective is only to discover whether or not they vary significantly with alternative land use patterns.
The third objective is to indicate the impact of different waste management policies on waste generation, environmental quality, and the costs of waste management. For example, if government policies were adopted to encourage waste recycling back into the production process, such policies would have important consequences for the costs of waste management. If effluent charges were adopted," they would stimulate production units to reassess their production processes to reduce the generation of wastes, if the costs of such reduction were less than the charges imposed. A ban on all incineration, both on-site and collective, would have significant implications for waste management costs. Our purpose is not to advocate a particular policy or set of policies but to illustrate the potential effects of alternative policies and to show how these effects can be analyzed.
The final objective of the study is to indicate the types of data and the functional relationships among variables required for the analysis of waste management in the New York Region. Currently, there are significant gaps in the data necessary for rational waste management in the Region.
BAn effluent charge is a fee for the discharge of each unit of waste-pound of BOD, pound of-particulate matter, or pound of nonreturnable bottles. Such charges are discussed further in Chapter 4_